Helping employees seek financial freedom
Are you struggling to pay off debt? Do you have enough money to cover an emergency? Do you worry about whether you will be able to retire comfortably? Consider these questions as you set your financial goals for 2022.
The answers may seem overwhelming to many Americans. The Federal Reserve reported that outstanding revolving debt, primarily credit card debt, reached a staggering $998.4 billion in July 2021. At the same time, Americans owed a record $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.
With inflation at a historic high, mounting debt, and concerns about their long-term financial future, many people need support to feel confident as they contemplate building a strong financial foundation. That is why employers are taking advantage of innovative programs to help employees achieve financial freedom.
Tackle student debt
Taking the lead in helping employees pay off college debt, Unum implemented the Student Debt Relief Program. This innovative program allows employees to transfer carry-over PTO into a payment against student debt. Other employers followed suit in implementing creative measures to transfer PTO into debt reduction or increased savings.
“Employees will want to move quickly to take advantage of programs which propel them toward paying off student loans,” states Carl Gagnon, Assistant Vice President (AVP), Global Financial Wellbeing and Retirement Programs at Unum. “As federal loan providers are being consolidated, people should also consider federal loan restructuring. It’s a wise option for those working to make student loan payments more manageable.”
Employers: Provide financial wellbeing assistance
When people are overwhelmed with financial stress, they need guidance from a trusted partner. Brightside financial assistance is Unum’s answer for their employees. Brightside provides both mobile and in-person access to a live consultant who measures financial wellbeing. The consultant guides the employee towards solutions to help accomplish their financial goals.
The theme of financial stress is common with employees everywhere, the Unum AVP noted, and this is driving employer-sponsored benefit directions.
Employees: Plan for retirement now
Retirement planning is important for everyone. HR personnel should consider how to help employees plan their finances for retirement.
“We have added new services for people thinking about retirement,” Gagnon articulates. “These go beyond simply saving. They include benefit and executive counseling on using the financial resources we provide as vehicles to leave employment and retire without worry,” he adds.
Employees looking toward retirement should ask their employer about financial counseling support for the future.
Get your financial house in order with emergency savings
“Unum will launch an emergency savings program that will allow non-officer employees to save an additional $10,000 per year for emergencies,” states Gagnon. He notes that while plans are being finalized for this new savings option, HR personnel should prepare to help employees reach their financial goals with programs like these.
Achieve long and short-term financial goals
Employees desire to be debt-free and to have confidence knowing where they stand financially as they look toward retirement. Mr. Gagnon discloses that the company is planning to add annuity options to 401K plans in the future. There are also other programs that will boost corporate retirement and benefit plans coming down the pipeline.
“It may take a few years but be on the lookout for more options in 401K plans that are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) friendly,” the Unum AVP states. He wants both employees and HR professionals to know that whatever changes are taking place in the economy, Unum is always responding by delivering benefits that will give employees peace of mind as they work to pay off debt, save, and implement their plan for financial freedom.